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DIY STORE CHAIN FORCED TO END REPTILE SALES AFTER 9 MONTH ANIMAL AID CAMPAIGN
Posted 16 October 2000
Following a hard hitting nine-month campaign by national pressure group Animal Aid, the DIY store chain, Focus Do It All, this week announced that it is to end the sale of reptiles and exotic spiders in all its branches.
Existing 'stocks' of reptiles are to be sent back to the supplier, the Surrey-based Strictly Reptiles.
Animal Aid's objections to the sales were based on the highly specialised needs of these animals - the majority of whom die in captivity within a year, according to US pet industry data.
Reptile sales have traditionally been a niche market. Focus Do it All, with its emphasis on glossy consumerism and large volume sales, looked set to generate a mainstream mass market for these animals.
The Animal Aid campaign has included hundreds of demonstrations outside company branches and 'occupations' of the store group's Dudley and Crewe headquarters. As well as the theme of animal suffering, the pressure group has stressed the public health hazard. Two babies have died within the last year from salmonella poisoning acquired from their families' pet reptiles. The first death, in December 1999, prompted the Government's Chief Medical Officer to warn children under five, pregnant women, the elderly and people with impaired immunity to avoid contact with any reptile.
Said Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler:
"This is a victory for common sense as well as for animal welfare. Our campaign could never have succeeded if not for the massive support we received from the public, including many Focus Do It All customers. But while we celebrate, we remain deeply concerned about the thousands of reptiles who continue to be traded in stores, in fairs and through the small ad columns of specialist magazines. Reptiles cannot be kept properly as pets. There remains, as well, a genuine public health hazard. It's time the government acted to prohibit this trade."
Added independent reptile expert Clifford Warwick, CBiol FIBiol MIBI:
"By ending reptile sales, Focus Do It All and Petworld can at last claim to have contributed to alleviating important animal welfare and human health concerns."
Animal Aid's celebration is also tempered by the fact that Focus Do It All seems determined to continue selling a wide range of animals, including exotic birds, small mammals and fish. Though the pet trade in general produces serious welfare problems, Animal Aid maintains that a DIY store is a wholly unsuitable environment for animals and inevitably leads to impulse buys that result in a large number of animals being abandoned.
The pressure group pledges that its campaign against the store group will continue until it stops the sale of all animals.
Notes to Editors
- For more information contact Elaine Toland on 01732 364546.
- We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.
- See also reptile campaign index.